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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Pakhomov Sweeps 77% of Sochi Vote

United Russia's candidate and acting Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov was declared the winner of Sochi's mayoral election Monday, leaving the opposition crying foul in the country's most high-profile vote this year.

Pakhomov, who was appointed acting mayor of the Black Sea resort only a few months ago, received 76.86 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, city election committee head Yury Rykov told reporters, Interfax reported.

Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov placed second with 13.6 percent, followed by Communist candidate Yury Dzagania with 6.76 percent, he said.

The vote won international attention because Sochi's mayor will have a say in how billions of dollars are spent in preparing the city for the 2014 Winter Olympics. It also has been called a test of President Dmitry Medvedev's commitment to democracy.

Critics maintain that the campaign was full of dirty tricks and that the local administration employed its resources unfairly so that the other candidates did not have a chance.

Nemtsov said the results were rigged and that he was considering challenging them in court.

But Rykov said there were "no questions" about the election's conduct and accused Nemtsov of violating campaigning rules in printing flyers.

"Candidates have abused their right to campaign with posters," he said.

Nemtsov, he added, had produced a large number of flyers at a printing house outside Sochi but had officially indicated that the printers were in the city. "A case has been opened because of an administrative offense. Those responsible have been fined," he said.

Nemtsov denied the allegations. "We have a contract with a Krasnodar printing house that is fully compatible with the law," he told The Moscow Times.

He also denied that he or his campaign staff had been fined.

An exit poll conducted by Nemtsov's campaign had predicted 46 percent for Pakhomov and 35 percent for himself. This would have necessitated a second round of the election as no candidate collected 50 percent.

Nemtsov accused the city administration of pressuring voters who had cast their ballots early -- usually government-paid workers like policemen, teachers and hospital staff who were bussed to polling stations by their employers.

Golos, the country's main nongovernmental election monitoring group, echoed Nemtsov's criticism. Lilia Shibanova, the organization's chairwoman, told The Moscow Times that 36 percent of people who cast ballots had not entered a polling station on election day.

A total of 24 percent of participants had voted early, while another 12 percent had voted from home, significantly more than in previous elections, she said.

"The elections showed a rising trend to employ administrative means to influence the electorate. ... The high number of early ballots indicate pressure on voters," Golos said in a statement published on its web site on Monday. "If reports about their shuttling in are confirmed, this indicates a breach of election law."

Shibanova said her organization had 20 election observers in Sochi. She said Golos received 42 voter complaints on a special telephone hotline.

Election officials, however, said they received only minor complaints.

"The commission got four complaints on election day," the Central Elections Commission spokesman Nikolai Konkin told Interfax.

City elections committee spokeswoman Valentina Tkacheva said the complaints contained no serious violations, and all "were solved quickly," Interfax reported.

The Communists said the vote was a sign of "managed democracy." "This was not an election. This was an appointment from above veiled by some voting," State Duma Deputy Sergei Obukhov told Interfax.

The turnout was 43.5 percent, about the same as the previous two mayoral elections, the elections committee said.